PIEDMONT -- An item to discuss a landscape plan for Blair Park got a little testy at Monday night's City Council meeting.
The council was being asked to approve allocating $15,000 for Restoration Design Group, of Berkeley, to develop a plan that would assess trees, shrubs and native and non-native vegetation at Blair Park. The project is part of a settlement with the group Friends of Moraga Canyon, who waged a lawsuit against the city for its approval of a youth sports complex by Piedmont Recreational Facilities Organization at Blair Park on city-owned land. The project was scrapped for lack of funds.
The $15,000 is earmarked for the landscape plan. The funds were part of the money deposited with the city by PRFO per their indemnification agreement with the city. Councilman Bob McBain took exception to some wording in the proposal.
"The language is presumptive and not correct," McBain said. "It (Blair) may not (necessarily) remain open space. There are 3,000 people in town who want a sports field."
McBain added: "That money is not from Friends of Moraga Canyon, not a penny of it. It came from PRFO."
Park Commissioner Nancy Kent questioned how and what could be accomplished at the park with the funds. McBain asked her what the city was getting for $15,000. Kent replied she was not in a position to answer.
Restoration Design principal Bob Birkeland told the council he understood the sensitive nature of the matter and that his firm would be "idea generators and problem solvers."
The firm plans to start work after Labor Day. The Friends group will review the firm's landscape improvement plan as it moves forward. Public hearings will be held at the Park Commission for further discussion.
In other affairs: The council also approved a one-year renewal agreement with the Piedmont Swim Team for its use of the city pool. The agreement will run through Aug. 17, 2014, for a fee of $23,056. The agreement reflects a modest increase in lane hour costs and a minor reduction in use hours, Recreation Director Mark Delventhal said.
City Planner Kate Black described a quirky situation with property at 1835 Trestle Glen Road, which straddles Oakland and Piedmont. She explained there are at least 100 dual-city properties that pay property taxes to both jurisdictions. The homeowners want to build a garage and second unit on their property. It is agreed between the two cities that Piedmont will take the lead, but the project will also be subject to review by Oakland.
The city has begun the process of seeking a new city administrator after the announcement by Geoff Grote that he will retire in February after 25 years of service.
A subcommittee of Mayor John Chiang and Vice Mayor Margaret Fujioka will review requests for proposals from recruiters on Aug. 30. The City Council will then move ahead with selecting a firm at a subsequent public meeting.